I’d half-expected the shooting at the end of last week’s episode to be a fakeout; but no, Red has indeed been injured, and quite badly at that. He can’t be taken to a hospital – security reasons, I think – but fortunately Mr Kaplan is able to conjure an operating theatre, complete with surgeon, into existence in a deserted warehouse given a couple of minutes’ notice. (She will later share an unexpected but enormously touching moment with Red.)
Just before surgery, Red instructs Liz to find this week’s Blacklister, Leonard Caul (Ned Van Zandt). Now, Caul seems to be a surveillance maven with access to old-school toys like reel-to-reel tape, and if you squint looks a bit like Gene Hackman in the 70s, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that there’s some sort of homage being paid to Harry Caul from The Conversation (1974). Anyway, he knows about The Fulcrum, and is able to show Liz how it works: lots of awesome stuff that, the first time round, we don’t get to see. But it seems to hold information about very important people doing very bad things.
Caul will survive the episode and avoid capture, so it’s yet another week in which the Blacklister is alive and free; I’m still guessing we’ll see at least one or two of them again. Meantime someone – whose identity won’t be much of a surprise – has been leaking details of Red’s whereabouts, so the Director of The Cabal (which for some reason I called The Syndicate last time round) delivers a fragment of a B-613-esque speech about how it’s people like him keeping everyone safe, and has a couple more goes at killing Red in his warehouse hospitals; the first is perfunctory, but the second is a thrilling full-on assault which is only stopped when Liz is able to exercise a little gunboat diplomacy with The Director.
We also get more Liz backstory: first, she brings an ex in to help with the surgery on Red, and we discover that her relationships with ex and Tom, um, overlapped. Ex doesn’t look too impressed with Tom, as well he shouldn’t, given that Tom still has the SS tattoo he got a few weeks ago. Perhaps he kind of likes it? Did he go native? But it turns out that Red only hired Tom to keep an eye on Liz, and that falling in love with her totally wasn’t in his contract. You guys, I am still shipping Tom and Liz, so there. This is at least in part because Ryan Eggold is now very clearly the second-best actor in the regular cast, behind only James Spader, and anything which keeps him in the show has to be encouraged.
And Liz is sent by Dembe on a Fulcrum-related mission to a flat owned (I think) by Red, in which there are photos of her when she was younger, including one of her with her mother: presumably a casting decision for someone in due course. Not a great episode, perhaps, but I enjoyed it.